Yesterday, the Government Accountability Board adopted an interpretation of law permitting people registering to vote to present electronic versions of utility bills and bank statement as proof of residency.
Republicans have, predictably, started blasting the GAB. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quotes Representative Robin Vos as saying, "Once again the GAB is showing that they do not share the public's concern that voter integrity is maintained throughout the process." Jay Weber this morning was blasting it as unnecessary and catering to the "lazy asses." Charlie Sykes teased the topic before his show in a manner that suggested he would be critical (although he has not mentioned it yet as I'm writing this).
This reaction is an overreaction. While I'm certainly no fan of the GAB*, and support photo identification for voting**, this new ruling creates virtually no increased opportunity for fraud. Consider the following:
- The ruling does not permit any new types of documents — only electronic versions of the exact same documents that were permissible previously.
- Can electronic documents be photoshopped or otherwise altered fraudulently? Sure. But that's nothing new. When only a paper document was accepted, it took a potential fraudster probably a whopping 10 additional seconds to print out their electronically-altered document.
- Many people (myself included) no longer get physical bills or statements in the mail. We've gone paperless, for many reasons: resource conservation; faster notification; easier filing and storage for future use, etc.
This is a reasonable interpretation of the law (which uses the term "document," without specifying paper or electronic) that recognizes changes in technology. Let's stay focused on real problems with the voting process.
* See the GAB's admission it would count "Mickey Mouse" and "Adolf Hitler" during the recall petition process, the GAB's decision to split up the Republican and Democratic recalls last summer, and the GAB's choice to chastise election observer whistleblowers instead of the election officials who actually were violating the law, among others.